Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beijing Week 6: Bye Beijing

My six weeks in Beijing has come to an end. It has been a cultural enriching experience: from the sights, my internship and my interactions with Peking University's students. The last week has been calmed, in terms of sighting seeing and my internship. Basically, I would try to hang out with the friends I made there, along with preparations for my travels to South Korea and Taiwan.

I was busy with my independent study. I was trying to get in as many interviews as possible. In the end, I managed to talk to 28 students, the original goal was 30. I know through the dialogues I've exchanged with these students; I have learned a lot about their perceptions and they have learned a lot from me.

So on my last day in Beijing, I went to the Beijing Zoo. One of my goals in China was to see a panda. I know I needed to go to Sichuan province to see them, but the Beijing Zoo is just as good. It's in China.

The Beijing Zoo has 7 pandas! I was very excited! Although 6 of the 7 pandas were sleeping and the one that was awake was stuck in a tree. Either way I was satisfied . Besides the excitement over the pandas, what surprised me the most was the people's behavior at the zoo.

I'm pretty sure at almost every zoo there are the "Don't Feed the Animals" signs. And for the most part, people will compile and follow it through. That's not the case in China. The signs are everywhere around the zoo, however, the people do not follow. Instead, I see a bear being fed a banana, a pack of wolves scouring for food thrown in there, plastic bottles surrounding the tigers and lions exhibits (my guess they are throwing the bottles to get the animal's attention). I think my favorite is seeing an ostrich that is accustomed to this walking around deciding what food it wants to it. I guess in my mind, I'm thinking this is a country that is supposed to be authoritative, but yet at the zoos there is a sense of disorder in following rules. But then again, I've learned that in China there are many rules and laws, however, it's not enforced.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I'm glad that I chose China because I was able to witness first hand how this "developing" country has come so far. It's one thing reading about, but it was another thing to see it.

- Manith Hang

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